Week’s worth of alcohol available for the price of a coffee causing ‘colossal’ harm, analysis shows
“Pocket money-priced” alcohol is causing “colossal” harm to the nation, doctors have warned after new analysis showed that people can buy a week’s worth of alcohol for the price of a takeaway coffee.
The Alcohol Health Alliance UK said that it is possible to buy 14 units of alcohol for just £2.68 – or the price of a cup of coffee from many high street chains.
It is advised that men and women should not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
The alliance – a coalition of more than 50 organisations including medical royal colleges and health charities – called on ministers to do more to tackle cheap, high-strength alcohol.
It visited shops and supermarkets across England, Wales and Scotland.
The Alliance said that the cheapest products were found in England – the only nation in Britain not to have a minimum unit price of alcohol of 50p.
Some cider products were found to be just 19p per unit.
The organisation said that cheap, high-strength cider is drunk by some of the most vulnerable groups including children, high-risk drinkers and homeless people.
The Government should commit to tackling cheap, high-strength alcohol in its review of the alcohol duty system and introduce minimum unit pricing in England, the Alliance said.
Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, said: “The low price of high-strength alcohol continues to cause colossal damage to the health of our nation.
“Alcohol is linked to 80 deaths in the UK every day, as well as seven types of cancer and stroke.
“To tackle the harm alcohol causes, we need to urgently address its price.
“Alcohol duty is currently too low to cover the costs of alcohol harm to our society.
“Public Health England estimates that alcohol costs the UK at least £27 billion a year. Yet over the past five years, alcohol duty has raised just £10.5-£12.1 billion annually.
“To pay for the costs to society that alcohol imposes, stronger drinks should be taxed more per unit of alcohol.
“With alcohol-related hospital admissions at record highs, and liver disease rates on the rise, we simply cannot afford alcohol remaining at such low prices.”
Dr Katherine Severi, chief executive at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, added: “Pocket money-priced drinks are fuelling rates of harm amongst some of our most vulnerable communities, with strong white ciders in particular proving lethal.
“Now, more than ever, we need to be fighting fit as a nation and looking to reduce the additional burden on the NHS and emergency services caused by cheap alcohol.”
A spokesman for industry body the Alcohol Information Partnership said: “The overwhelming majority of alcohol available in this country is sold at responsible prices.
“The examples quoted are incredibly rare and we do not condone alcohol being sold at this price.
“We know that not only are people drinking less now, when they do drink they are increasingly buying better quality products.
“The big growth area in alcohol in the UK is in super-premium spirits and not cheap products such as this report suggests.”
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